Scripting Family Villainy

Happy Halloween! Today I share tips and prompts to screenwriting familial villainy; Every hero needs a villain and in contrast to The Joker villain which I wrote about here, we will take a look at villains hiding in plain sight: family. What’s more terrifying than family trauma? And how do Heroes purge toxic family? Read this 2,000 word post that will strengthen your writing and ideally, the Hero or Heroine inside YOU. 

 


 

The Adventures of Natalee Arteaga are rich in wisdom and full of close encounters, fantastic enemies, incredible mistakes, plentiful missions, brave speeches, and noble battles. Through it all I’ve conquered external and internal foes with Truth, Revelation, Boundaries, and Transparency. My life has been saved exclusively by Curiosity and Imagination, shielding me from total destruction at someone else’s hand or mine own. What saves your hero inside when the going gets the toughest? 

 


 

To tailor your villain, first build your hero or heroine. Who is he? What does she believe in? What are their blind spots? When you build the character of your hero/heroine and their weaknesses, build up their equal opposite (or not, but I love how opposites attract!). 

I watch lots of Christopher Nolan. I watched Inception three times in a row straight before I figured out the ending.

I FIGURED OUT THE ENDING TO INCEPTION ALL BY MYSELF! 

 


 

Honestly, I never saw this coming.

I’ve unearthed a real life family villain. An occurrence I never could have written unless I experienced it first hand. If you’re stuck (and even if you’re not) the first place you should look for inspiration is in your own family and go down the list thinking about every single person and how they treat you and make you feel. Ask yourself, Have they passed the integrity test with me? Is there mostly love with a few character defects here and there or more abuse and harm to you than good times?

 



How could the mind that figured out the ending to Inception take this long to sever this connection to this toxic family member? Every hero has a blind spot! Mind stayed blind for almost 30 years before it could see!

*Peruse the ten links that support severing ties with toxic family here to 1. become familiar with others who have cut ties with overtly and covertly abusive family members and 2. familiarize yourself with other weapons you can use in your story.

You might learn about other forms of abuse that you’ve been subjected to that you had no idea were actually even considered abuse; perhaps it was that normalized. You’ll feel angry about it, and likely ashamed. It’s okay. You didn’t “let it happen” and their abuse on you was NOT your fault! I don’t care what you were told. I’m here with you. We’re okay.

 


 

This is my last communication with someone we will call BARF. I’m publishing this for two reasons:

1. Because she immediately disrespected my boundaries after explicitly asking her to honor them so now I’m sharing with the entire world the truth of how she treated me and how ugly she really is. (At least to me she was)

2. Because I didn’t have these words my whole life (this person has a very strong and manipulative personality and ran roughshod over me pretty much all of our interactions and especially when no one else was around when it was even worse) until right now. If anyone else is out there needing these words, I want you to have them and use them. I support all rawness in your letters because it’s part of healing.  

 


 

My scathing, irate, volatile message below, shortened for brevity:

 

““Barf”. I now fully understand the shocking extent of your efforts in keeping me alienated from family I could relate to and who would love me and accept me for who I am. [plot twist]

All those invitations you were asked to extend to me throughout the past 30 years that never reached me. The past 14 years I’ve been doing family research looking for family as I sat at your mothers kitchen table with you not uttering a word about my relatives living right in Chicago. You watched me spend an entire lifetime pursuing a livable career in the arts and never connected me to my cousins who shared the same passions, knowing it would make a difference in my life to have contemporaries I could relate to. Years of watching your daughters bully me and letting them get away with it. Covertly abusing me yourself with your own style of abusing power: betraying my boundaries, turning yourself into the victim to devalue my own feelings and autonomy, gaslighting, and other sick tricks until I got wise enough to demand the right to my own boundaries. You care so much about how you look to others and that you look like this staunch believer full of righteousness who prioritizes her family and her faith, because underneath you have an ugly heart that’s sad and jealous and an ugly mind filled with deception, cognitive bias, and familial sadism. You’re a liar. You lie.

You withheld a whole reservoir of familial love I have never known and it has made ALL the difference in the quality of life I have lived in every way possible.

Thinking of doing to [my 6 year old niece] what you did to me is chilling and incomprehensible. I could never treat her the way you treated me my whole life for a fraction of a second. I promise to your God that I am wholeheartedly authentically disgusted by your entire being you make humans call “Barf”. Gross.

[Now that I’m an Aunt myself – It is startlingly clear to me she definitely never loved me.] Our relationship could have been so different and it’s painful to think of how close we could have been and how deeply you have betrayed that potentiality.

I don’t care what contributed to the ugly person you are, you made the wrong choice over and over and over and over again for my entire life while smiling at me trying to look like the Good Samaritan who brought the cold washcloths. I know who you really are now. This is our end.

I don’t allow toxic miserable people in my life, so please stay away from me. [Me explaining this message isn’t to engage with her but to end our connection and move on] 

[Me telling her to heed my warning, respect my boundaries, and keep everyone else out of it otherwise I’m going to expose her to other family members and online and more] 

I deserve this boundary with you. Never dealing with you again is a gift I give to myself.

Lastly, I want you to know that you didn’t win; Not only do I still have my integrity intact, I never turned into an ugly hateful sabotaging person like you, and I DID get to have a real family after all. I fall in love with something in each new family member I meet and my life is a zillion times richer since the family reunion.

You’re a horrible miserable loser who lost me forever.

I won because I never let you break my spirit, I never gave up on myself, I never lowered myself to your sick level, and I never gave up on my dream of having a real family who loves me for who I really am.

Though I would hope you choose to heal, I don’t care. Your choices will never effect my life ever again and that’s all that matters.”

 

Her response:

 

“Excuse me Natalee, I will disregard your mis conception and forward this to your dad.”

 


Just so everyone understands incase this happens to you, check out my logical breakdown of what’s happening here. 

 

Firstly, a misconception is a view that is incorrect based on faulty thinking.

All of my reasoning and logic is supported by the facts of the past and what actually happened between us. Not my faulty thinking. You don’t hurt someone and then tell them their pain is just their misconception. Clearly her natural response is gaslighting: manipulating me psychologically into questioning my own sanity by telling me I’M the one who is mistaken. It’s a very simple psychological tool of mental/emotional/psychological fuckery once you get used to it. I didn’t respond to her of course, I blocked her across all platforms including her phone number. #win

Her cognitive bias? (Our thinking has evolved to take shortcuts, but a cognitive bias makes our judgement irrational – there’s a misfiring in the brain causing the person to lose objectivity) Reactance. She reacted in the predictably opposite way as a knee-jerk contrarian. Being uncooperative is her way of taking her power back and therefore, seeing herself as superior over me.

Her illogical reasoning? She’s using an Appeal to Authority. Saying she will “forward this to your dad” tells me her brain’s shortcut to solving her problems are going to be to go to the highest authority she can find and do whatever it takes to manipulate their favor, in this case: it’s my own father. An appeal to authority is not a valid argument, and she completely disregards the empirical evidence I put before her. She’s also now exploiting her relationship with him for unethical favors. She did this to me growing up too.

Using an appeal to authority can be dangerous when that authority is corrupt or wrong, therefore having no bearing upon the argument at hand. She’s taking something completely irrelevant and using it to somehow strengthen her position and intimidate me psychologically. 

Also, it’s incredibly clear in her response her total inability to handle this adult confrontation on her own, still attempting to infantilize me like she’d always done. #boring

What does your family villain do to your hero or heroine psychologically? How does it go down when someone tries to stand up for themselves? How much can they take? Are they ever able to be truly free?

 


 

When I woke up the next morning I felt an entire burden was lifted off my life and I could see clearly and crisply into my future. It shines that much brighter now, every single time I do something great for myself. What feelings have you gone through? What is your hero going through? 

While this is my scathing, irate, and raw message to this person who hurt me so deeply, now that I’ve confronted her and removed her from my entire life FOREVER, I am truly at peace. Meaning, I’m not angry anymore. At all. I put any vitriolic response to her abuse into that message and there is where it stays. All the negativity has left me completely, and I feel truly blessed to now have the grace of peace in my heart. She can’t upset me anymore, not with smear campaigns or anything else. She can’t hurt me. I’m free.

I feel secure and stable and happy. It hurt to do it, believe it or not, but this is what Heroes do. And this is what your hero needs to do: RISE above the villain.

 


 

In the very end of your story, your heroine or hero MUST RISE ABOVE THE VILLAIN. 

Set your hero or heroine free at the end, not necessarily of the villain if their story continues, but of the ability of the villain to hurt your hero/heroine.

I choose to be Batman every single day. Make no mistake, this is my choice. I don’t want to go low, I want to be Batman! Let me share a story of what happens when YOU or your hero makes the sad choice and let the villain win….

In the Injustice Series the Joker manipulates Superman into killing Lois Lane and their unborn child. Superman, unhinged, goes to kill the Joker and has him by the collar.

The Joker, however, doesn’t plead for his life, or say any witticisms… he just laughs maniacally. This makes Superman angrier and angrier…

The Joker is of course laughing his fucking ass off because he knows he has won over Superman. He has proved his ultimate philosophy and dies cackling in his completely validated illusory superiority!

I can’t let that happen to me! Don’t let it happen to you!

You will have to make these choices for your characters and in your life too!

Choose wisely, let go of toxicity without and within. That’s the secret to elevation of Heroes and Heroines akin. Happy reading and writing for the silver screen. But most of all, Happy Halloween!!!

Using Movies – The Evil Appeal

I want anyone who’s going to be a great filmmaker or screenwriter to be that version of themselves as soon as possible. In doing everything in my power to help you get there, enjoy my words on how you can use a movie– your screenwriting, to create truly original artwork that reflects who you are and asserts your deepest convictions in an entertaining fashion. Today I discuss Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight and illustrate how he used the Jokers evil appeal to further his own philosophical thesis.

i'm not a monster just ahead of the curve

Me – Ahead of my Curve

I’ve always had issues with authority. Recently, I wrote the screenplay that was to exist to correct the devastating imbalances of justice I suffered throughout my life. Knowing I had to unite the previously marginalized through our common pain, I gave my soul words to create this theatrical exorcism of suffering, poignancy, and irrefutable truth. I wrote my script also using the evil appeal to entertainingly share my philosophy with the world. Throughout the two-hour historical thriller, I put down the words on women, metaphysics, politics, spirituality, men, ego structures, friendship, will to power, abuse, history, money, manipulation, fame, values, justice, order and chaos, meaning and absurdity, good and evil and how everything boils down to The personal responsibility of choice.

That script is not only my first masterpiece but also my thesis aggressively asserting a very deep philosophical argument that my internal tension seems to generate.

 

Christopher Nolan

Nolan (and his brother – but I’m going to refer to just one Nolan here for ease) asserts LOTS of existential philosophical arguments in his movies through the expression of his characters. This is what we do as writers. 

hmm

In The Dark Knight, Nolan gifts us a savagely witty Joker as the embodiment of a philosophical argument taken to violent extremes.

It’s clear in his body of work this is a man who thinks; look at Memento or Inception (a personal favorite!); His explorations of existentialism are crystal clear after you watch his movies again and again and again and again. In TDK he neatly inserted this philosophical argument between Batman and the Joker. Bale proves to be a perfectly immovable Bruce Wayne and a believably idealistic Batman. That idealism had to hold up against the Joker’s point in order to make their trauma-bond real and their push and pull believably fascinating. They both shine under Nolan’s direction thus gifting us with a truly historic and valuable piece of film history forever. Ten years on and the film holds up like it’s still new. That’s a masterpiece! 

 

Now, let’s take a look at how he might have done it and how you can take what’s important to you and put it in your scripts.  

 

The Dark Knight

Existentialist themes are the poetic bedrock upon which the entire plot stands. I outline briefly a few key definitions to make it easy.

Joker 001 Existentialism: Asserts the total absence of rules, morals, and codes except the ones we make up in our heads to feel better about being alive. Existentialists embrace an idea of a universe without any preordained values. In effect, through exploration and conscious deliberation they choose what has value and meaning in life, for themselves.

Nihilism: Rejects all religious and moral principles. Often in the belief that life is meaningless anyway. It’s pretty extreme skepticism.

a guy like me

Übermensch: An individual who overcomes the fear and dread of a potentially meaningless life. An individual able to define their own values, assign meaning to things, people, and ideas themselves, and carefully choose their own purpose. An Übermensch is a true individual who embraces their will to power and chooses their own fate and therefore writes their own ticket, remaining uninfluenced by anything but their own wise counsel. We never betray the integrity we have with ourselves.

laughing joker

Will to Power: The driving force. “I embrace my will to power and drive it to change the world around me for the better” is a positive übermensch statement. The Joker embraced his will to power and drove it to create chaos. The Batman struggled personally with his own will to power throughout TDK.

joker smirk

Illusory Superiority: the cognitive bias in all of us that causes us to think too highly of our own positive qualities and far too little of our own negative ones.

 

 

Batman and the Joker engage in an epically fierce philosophical battle over the course of three glorious hours.

it's a funny world we live in

Because Thomas Hobbes wrote Leviathan in the 1600’s, the entirety of Western Civilization is organized on the belief that without government structure people will rape, pillage, and murder each other like primal animals without any sense of natural justice, self-control, or morality. Everyone feared this immoral chaos, so therefore, government, law, and order were “an absolute necessity” and we’ve been living under their control ever since. I have thoughts on this since politically I’m a 19th century anarchist reformist. Did I just make you feel weird or mad for a second there? GOOD. You have a perspective on this too. Write. It. Down. Argue with me in your head and write. It. DOWN.

 

Just like you and I, Batman and the Joker have different opinions on civilization…

 

Joker’s Philosophical Position

the only way to live in this world is without rules

Everyone is as Evil as I am! No one is really better than me, no one is really ‘nice’. These people are really savages who are faking it and I’m going to prove it, just watch! I’m going to push Gotham to destructive anarchy, force civilians to kill each other, free the bad guys and burn 30 million dollars in front of them, make the Batman break his one rule, destroy Harvey Dent’s belief in Justice by killing Rachel, AND THEN YOU’LL SEE!

I disagree with Alfred, who tells Bruce that some people just like to watch the world burn and that the Joker is one such person. Alfred is right about those types of maniacs, but that’s not who the Joker is. No one in TDK understands him. The Joker has a philosophical point to prove, remember? So do YOU, as a screenwriter. Corrupting the “incorruptible” is his objective and how he needs to prove his philosophical point to the Batman. If it’s that simple then he’s not really chaotic is he? He’s actually a Mastermind, not at all a “dog chasing cars”. It just looks like anarchy because SCHEMERS can’t understand him.

He only tells Dent that in the hospital to exploit Dent’s pain at the arbitrariness of the Jokers’ cruelty against Rachel as his tipping point beyond objective justice to fully become Two Face… He definitely has a plan, as true masterminds always do… like you do too. Tell me, do you ever add the liberating element of randomness to your carefully constructed little plans? Or are you a hard-core “Schemer”?

 

Batman’s Philosophical Position

christian bale batman

People are Good! Some are like you, defected. But for the most part, people just want to live a good life and not be harassed by broken miserable criminalsI’m going to save Rachel, save Harvey, save Gotham’s citizens, protect my true identity, restore faith in Gotham’s justice system, and then retire to have lots of sex and babies in my multiplied wealth and prove you wrong AND THEN YOU’LL SEE” 

Batman is an Übermensch who drives his will to power to correct injustice in an unlimited, unsanctioned and illegal way. He struggles with his own internal tension and is baffled at the apparent absurdist nature of the Joker.

He tries to know his man, figure out what he’s after. When the Joker doesn’t work that way, burning millions of dollars and annoying him with darkly augmented philosophical witticisms, Batman is forced to learn through the experiences the Joker puts him through.

This is his mistake the whole movie… he doubts his will to power and struggles with internal tension that makes it difficult for him to be honest with himself about his own character defects and blind spots that prevented him from seeing the Joker for who he really is.

The Game

Each übermensch tries to prove their point through not only their own actions, words, and interactions with and against each other…. But through the actions, results, and responses of Rachel, Harvey, and Gotham’s citizens in response to the stimuli fed to them by both Joker and Batman. Those who already have a little pleasure in hurting people won’t take much to be nudged to destructive anarchy. Those who want to believe in the best don’t take much to openly support Batman’s idealized justice.

The Result

rachel dies

If Batman embraced his will to power and drove it to accurately assess his own defects and see the Joker clearly for who he really was, he wouldn’t have played his game and he would have been able to save both Rachel and Harvey. Thinking clearly would’ve allowed him to outwit the Joker. But he couldn’t see it and played right into the Jokers hands. He thus paid the highest price for his own Illusory Superiority. He lost Rachel.

Even so. When the night is darkest just before the dawn…. even after losing the only person who could ever understand him, know him, and truly love him with a kind of devotional love men dream of…. he proves himself to be truly incorruptible. He never breaks his One Rule.

Batman stands by his values and never betrays the integrity he honors in himself as a knight and thus truly achieves Übermensch status.

Harvey Dent was Gotham’s White Knight, full of authentic integrity, a real passion for unobstructed and impartial justice, and a paragon of Fairness. This point was an easy score for the Joker. All he had to do was kill Rachel. (We’ve all suffered errors in judgement in selecting mates so I’m not judging I’m elucidating: Rachel chose Harvey over Bruce which was a mistake. Harvey wasn’t a real übermensch because he proved corruptible, Bruce was the better man… )

We then saw him swing to the alarming nihilistic extreme… killing five people, “two of ’em cops!” and reducing their fates to the arbitrariness of chance. His fucked up two-headed coin whose one side got toasty when Rachel got toasted.

the only morality in a cruel world is chance

Acting the complete opposite of due course in a functioning justice system he strived his whole life up to that point to actualize. Flipping a coin to determine human life, Harvey’s spiritual regression proves the Joker’s philosophy correct and his mission successful in disrupting society’s sense of Illusory Superiority.

madness as you know is like gravity all it takes is a little push
The “schemers” who try so hard to control everything, right? The fake “civilized” people who care about money and cars who think they’re “better than”…. Yeah, the Joker humbled Gotham by bringing them back down to their primal savage origins through Harvey’s soul degradation.

Batman did everything he could to try and save both the love of his life and the city’s paragon of hope…. In the end even going so far as to absorb the blame for Dent’s injustices so that the people may still believe in Goodness. The way those citizens on the boats showed Batman and Joker goodness can still triumph. This is how he becomes The Dark Knight.

can't rely on anyone these days

Because Gotham’s citizens not only proved the Joker wrong. They proved his philosophy wrong to themselves and each other. Whatever anyone thought about society and civilization when they boarded those boats, they know after that ordeal where the city stands with itself. Gotham effectively broke up with their abusive boyfriend who was deploying a logical fallacy to present two alternative states as the only options (blow up the other boat or die) when in fact more possibilities exist (like doing the right thing and believing in the best in the other boat to do the same) by refusing to play his game.

Batman wouldn’t let the Joker take what Harvey stood for from the people… He saw a tipping point for his beloved city when his citizens proved him right on the boats. He learned from them.

So he runs… he runs to give Gotham “a little push” in the direction of goodness… hoping they too will run with it. 

This is what makes me cry at the end.

Harvey Dent is the hero Gotham needs but doesn’t deserve…

Batman is the hero Gotham deserves… but doesn’t need…

Argh! Nolan sure knows how to make sapiosexuals swoon. Nolan Nolan Nolan, Nolan gives us this Cinegasm to vicariously live through and experience for ourselves.

it's about sending a message

It is about sending a message, what do you have to say as a writer?

Our idealistic hopes for our own lives and the future of humanity stick to Christian Bales face for three hours, making him handsomer over time as we watch him overcome each moralistic blow dealt by the Joker and stick to his integrity.

Our Jungian shadow-side shamelessly indulges in anarchistic delight in step with Heath as we watch him humble authority figures by obliterating their illusory superiority, outwitting them, and killing them in funny ways.

let her go poor choice of words

 

We laugh with him and delight in the true freedom in which he acts, like letting Rachel’s hand go when he’s instructed to “Let her go.” – wouldn’t that have occurred to you as well, and wouldn’t it be hilarious? Teeheehee!

 

The freedom criminality appears to offer when one disregards all other life in totality is something Heath Ledger masterfully exorcises with visceral control over his effect that is spellbinding, perfectly illustrating the appeal of evil.

 

The End

In the end… they both win. This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. you complete me

They are bonded forever, meant to use each other to advance or regress spiritually and inspire the world to do the same in a lifelong philosophical battle until one of them dies.

 

you wont kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness

 

Now that you understand a work of genius more intimately, it’s your turn to go write something legendary.

 

 

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

Accidentally Good Times at the El Royale House

I accidentally saw the last 90 minutes of Bad Times at the El Royale at Soho House last night–

 

Remember in Sin City when he thinks she’s saying “STOP!” but she’s actually saying “He’s a COP!”? That’s how I tried to see Hocus Pocus and ended up accidentally in BTATER. I thought it would end in 15 minutes and HP would start at 7… it didn’t. 
 
ANYWAY. It must have been fated because it changed my mind about two actors: Dakota Johnson and Chris Hemsworth (while I revisited a favorite and discovered a few new greats!). I never saw any of Johnson’s work and only saw the first Thor of Hemsworth’s years ago.
I’m happy to say both Johnson and Hemsworth delighted me in this stylish and very classy pulp fiction by Drew Goddard.


Dakota Johnson

dakota
I finally discovered Johnson’s on-screen appeal which is VERY lovely but it didn’t sink in right away. I then understood how she hadn’t been on my radar all these years (I read 50 Shades and it sucked, so I didn’t see any of the movies) Her talent doesn’t deliver in a sucker-punch style, it’s much more nuanced and easy to overlook. She could shine very bright in her own rays of light if she’s nurtured and directed correctly.
She needs a script written like a custom perfume blend: Tailored to her uniqueness in a balanced way. The layers of her talent are time-released fragrances that shouldn’t be rushed. A good screenwriter can layer and pace her “top”, “base”, and “middle” “notes” over the course of a two-hour film. 

Chris Hemsworth

chris.jpg

I was also delightfully surprised that Hemsworth is as talented as he is attractive. I also noticed how different his voice sounded, or maybe, that I didn’t remember his voice sounding like that? His voice stands out because his chest and packs of muscles are displayed for 100% of Hemsworth’s screen time (that I saw, though I’m preeeeeetty sure he was topless the beginning of the movie too) and that’s what you end up staring at.

I hadn’t thought about him much since Thor 1– wait, I think I saw something he was in where he had short hair with cuts in the side, but I know I fell asleep so I forgot what it was. Anyway, so when he appeared on screen I just waited for the movie to end (as I still thought HP might start after whatever this was ended soon, silly me) and watched the strings of each of his muscles twitch, contract, and loosen at his will. Or I’d be looking at the deep shadows between the mountainous abs of 6 or I’d be gazing at the lean lack of any substance between pure muscle and well-moisturized and tanned ab muscle-covering skin and mental-monologue respect for his discipline to eat clean because I love chocolate donuts and bread and butters and ethical meats and cheeses and to get abs like that you have to eat really clean and lean because no matter how much you work out you can’t compensate for a bad diet and that’s how I know I’ll never want 6 separate ab muscles because I’m quite slender and having a trim enough waist is enough to keep me happy– I then noticed that distinctive voice of his and was brought back to the movie plot. I kept listening to it and it’s really quite interesting. He could do very well in lots of different noir-ish homages (like BTATER but where we can root for him) or stories featuring unique characters made so by their voices and beliefs. I hope he gets the chance.

He was good, but only as good as he’s written. He can do more and it’s easy to see why he’s overlooked, his abs are blinding…. I’d really like to see Hemsworth as a mortal hero who uses his emotion and his unique (literal and figurative) voice to conquer the bad guys and and save the word in a different film… He’s more than good enough for BTATER though, as he also dances a funny ab-dance which will be a gif soon enough. 

Billy Lee might be written a bit lazily, I really don’t know. I didn’t see the beginning of the film to see if he’s more developed than what I saw. Or perhaps Hemsworth was incongruent between the first and second half in some way. I don’t know. I am inclined to think Hemsworth could’ve done more if he had more to do, writing-wise, in BTATER though. I feel like he was written as “vain sexy self-absorbed cult leader” and that was that. He, unfortunately, cannot do what Cynthia Erivo can do… read on to read what that is!

Everyone Else

I already know and LOVE Jeff Bridges. He was, as he always reliably is, perfect <3
His voice is so evocative of sympathy it’s uncanny. Goddard uses him perfectly in BTATER.
Last night I fell IN love with Cynthia Erivo, she’s simply magic and someone to watch. I can’t believe we’ve been going on all this time without her in the public consciousness. We need more of her. Her imdb lists three upcoming films: Chaos Walking and Needle in a Timesack which are both in post-production. It looks like she’s currently filming Harriet as Harriet Tubman!! I might be expecting too much from the script but I know whatever she’s given she will give it back having multiplied it’s worth tenfold somehow.She will do that. Cynthia Erivo took a sheaf of paper Drew Goddard gave her and gave him back Darlene Sweet. I still hope they write her very very greatly in the Tubman bio-pic. Her voice is H E A V E N and the first time I heard her sing on camera I felt truly privileged ^_^Cynthia made this role her own and it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it; she’s

 a double-threat: she can both act AND sing. This isn’t to be taken for granted, because there’s usually one that’s more favored or more adept than the other. Beyonce is more of a singer than an actress. Nicole Kidman is more of an actress than a singer, but she still sang in Moulin Rouge!

Cynthia Erivo makes it difficult to discern which she can do better (act or sing), as she oozes easy talent doing both at the same time as naturally as I’m sure she reads the morning newspaper, and probably just as graceful.
 Lewis Pullman makes acting look effortless. He’s natural, he’s real, he’s present and very reactive. He’s feeling every single thing newly, freshly, in the moment, moment to moment. He’s actually just as perfect as Jeff Bridges.
Lewis Pullman is alive on camera and it’s fascinating to watch.
This is also due to Drew’s good writing, and armed with a stellar script Pullman’s talents are clear and confident. It was wonderful to experience him and I hope we see more of him too.
 
Written and Directed by Drew Goddard, I predicted 25-30% of it. But after about 20 minutes I stopped even trying and that’s the best part. I noticed that the great things I clocked were consistent and that I was watching something sophisticated and therefore pleasurable (sapiosexuals will enjoy this film). He steered his project successfully and artfully.
Goddard is clearly another deep thinker, dedicating thought-forms to philosophizing, reflection, and imagining. The product of all that alone time is clear in BTATER: his pulp fiction characters representing multiple sides of the philosophical arguments in his head. The way they express themselves showcase Goddard’s creativity in a classy and stylish fashion. While he could’ve taken it much further philosophically and mentally– he relaxed and leaned a lot on the style and genre, he still did an amazing job on this project he got to both write and direct. 
I loved the cast, the story, and the overall filmmaking. Bravo, everyone!

 

I ALSO LOVE THAT HE PUT ‘THE LETTER’ IN THE MOVIE because it’s one of my favorite songs. I would sing it with my little sister and our father in the car growing up <3

 

 

BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYAL OPENS THIS THURSDAY OCTOBER 11TH, SEE IT WITH FRIENDS OR FOR SECOND DATES!

The Screenwriting Thing

*This is for anyone wanting to know the real thing (otherwise known as: my opinion) about writing, selling, and producing screenplays if you are so inclined.*

First, I have to establish an understanding with the writers reading these words. You’re a real writer, right? As in, you get ideas and write every day? Or do you just get ideas and don’t write them down, or what? Some people call themselves writers and either don’t get ideas or don’t write them down (and the liars do neither I suppose).

While anyone can put words together and force “story arches”, “macguffins”, and “characters” to do things on paper, it takes a true artisans fertile imagination, with a philosophical point to prove– and maybe a dash of moxie-fueled ambition, to create an authentic screenplay the artists you admire will want to champion. That’s the script you need to write. If that’s not you, please be honest with yourself instead of flooding the market with cold, palmy, sub-par putrid piles of mess. You pollute our community and bring down the culture with unchecked cognitive bias written carelessly into your characters, your lack of originality, and the propagation of regressive formulaic storytelling.

*waits*

Okay, hopefully those who were going to overreact in defensive anger and close their browser window have done so, and now it’s just you and I, the real writers. Isn’t that better? 😀

You get ideas and write them down, excellent! Next, all you really need to know are the formatting guidelines that Hollywood expects, basic punctuation and grammar, and a strong story structure that holds your completely original and creative material in place. This site can help– In fact, I’ll help you right now. Here are the only two books you need to write a screenplay:

I’ll put a couple more things in blog posts to help you along structurally, and a few things here and there to jostle inspiration if you’re temporarily clogged (depression does that, and I know we tend to have a separate spectrum just for being maudlin; writer/alcoholic connection?), but this site is designed to and will only support and nurture true-blue writers, and cannot create one out of unlike kind.

You’re either a creator with lots of internal tension and write every day or you’re not and you don’t. It’s in the doing of the every day that makes up who you are… We’re going to move on, though I hope this is clear; take it up with me if it’s not: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

I’m stating simple truths so you can recalibrate your perspective and adjust your expectations if you need to before we proceed. 

So, proceed if you are definite in your definitions of your Self (as a writer, comrade!).

Hemingway

After you complete the screenplay, trust that the cream rises to the top, in its own time; And! Be as nice and as gracious as you can with every single human being you come into contact with thereafter.

Being gracious with a powerful and original script under your arm is how you want to be discovered when others find you. It’s as much their experience of an artist as it is you experiencing the manner in which you move through your life.

I stay away from the negative personas, the ungracious, the lazy, the unoriginal, the hateful, the bitter, the incurably sad, the devaluers, and the victims. Do the same, follow your intuition. Forgive yourself for your honest mistakes and don’t ever stop trying to be better than you were a moment ago. Give and ask for second chances and don’t fuck them up and sabotage someone’s movie because you’re not honest with yourself and/or are selfish.

I’m attracted to original, independent and authentic personas: the strong, the idealistic, the creative, the noble, gracious, the loyal, the passionate, the magnanimous, the amusing, and the strategic. Look for the same. Always follow your intuition if it reacts to someone displaying these traits which are feigned, inconsistent, disingenuous, or inauthentic. Sometimes you have to work with horrible people, and when that is unavoidable respect them as much as you can before you’re forced to defend yourself. Be loud and clear about your boundaries and prove all points on how to treat you with either a profound and mature sense of urgency or with an immediate and obstinately quiet exit. Email me for follow-up strategy: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

Boundaries

It’s never too late to reinvest in your Self.

Fix your character flaws or be in the process of fixing them.

Walk into responsibility and learn from your mistakes, find trustworthy people, share work between yous, and keep writing. Let your work speak for itself and be gracious working with others.

Marge reads The Fountainhead

Essentially: Be like Howard Roark and if you’re not then quit. Read The Fountainhead if you don’t know who he is. For a free copy, email Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

What’s important is your perspective in the every day, the mind palace you create for your Self to live in all day every day. Is it a palace? Or is it an ugly prison bonded and built with the traumas of your past and fears of other people and the future? It’s your day thinking that soaks your soul at night. What do you immerse yourself in? 

You want to both deserve and offer value in the form of relationship and the quality of your talent. Follow your own flow; Businesses, collaborations, and relationships in all manners and forms may then unfold for you naturally. Act with integrity and honesty, because even though you may be misunderstood, secretly insulted, betrayed, repeatedly sabotaged, and experience long delays on your road to, through, and beyond whatever you consider success, the value you derive from operating your life with this artistic integrity will feed your soul for years to come and insulate you against regret when in old age. The High Road is high for a reason; money, fame, and awards mean nothing compared to those sterling moments at the end of your life when it’s quiet and you’re alone with your Self and you can feel good that what you created and how you treated people both defined your character and energized your sense of aliveness; that warm pride will bestow the gift of dignity at deaths time and that’s the moment worth building towards today.

Last Moments

Another over-masticated thought-post or just the right length this time? Let me know: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

TL:DR
Be talented, be good to your self and others, and let the cream rise to the top in its own time. Be very much like Howard Roark about your life and art and if you’re not then quit. Read The Fountainhead if you don’t know who he is. For a free copy, email Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com.

29 Loglines

It can not be understated the importance of a great logline. Keep in mind, even the best or rather simplest written loglines can still fall short conveying how creative the film will ultimately express itself. That’s not the logline’s job though, so put that aside.

The logline is about instant understanding.

So, what is the movie about? I initially have trouble boiling this down, so don’t feel bad if you do too. But boil, we must.

Get some scratch paper and a writing instrument. I say writing instrument because I don’t know who you are; Maybe you’re someone’s mom and the closest thing in reach is a soggy sugar cookie. Or maybe you’re backpacking Europe and are jotting your ideas down with eyeliner. I used to run out of paper and write ideas on disassembled Tri-X film boxes. 

My screenwriting philosophy is individual-focused and anti-formula. This is what worked for me, and it might for you. Read the list of 29 and as soon as you get a feeling, write something down. Anything. While anything can lead to something, nothing can’t lead to anything. So don’t judge what you write. Look away, come back. You’ll likely find you have something better to work with than you previously thought. 

Your logline makes the 30th, if it doesn’t read as good as the rest, keep working on it until it does.

Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com

THE GODFATHER

The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

TITANIC

A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea.

PULP FICTION

The lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife, and a pair of diner bandits intertwine in four tales of violence and redemption.

THE MATRIX

A computer hacker learns from mysterious rebels about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS

A gentle man, with scissors for hands, is brought into a new community after living in isolation.

NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD

A group of people hide from bloodthirsty zombies in a farmhouse.

FOREST GUMP

Forrest Gump, while not intelligent, has accidentally been present at many historic moments, but his true love, Jenny Curran, eludes him.

SILENCE OF THE LAMBS

A young F.B.I. cadet must confide in an incarcerated and manipulative killer to receive his help on catching another serial killer who skins his victims.

CASABLANCA

Set in unoccupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.

REAR WINDOW

A wheelchair bound photographer spies on his neighbours from his apartment window and becomes convinced one of them has committed murder.

THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION

Two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.

THE HELP

An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maid’s point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

ROCKY

A small time boxer gets a once in a lifetime chance to fight the heavyweight champ in a bout in which he strives to go the distance for his self-respect.

THE ARTIST

Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break.

SAW

With a dead body laying between them, two men wake up in the secure lair of a serial killer who’s been nicknamed “Jigsaw”. The men must follow various rules and objectives if they wish to survive and win the deadly game set for them.

DJANGO UNCHAINED

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

CLERKS

A day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof.

ONCE

A modern-day musical about a busker and an immigrant and their eventful week in Dublin, as they write, rehearse and record songs that tell their love story.

THE FULL MONTY

Six unemployed steel workers form a male striptease act. The women cheer them on to go for “the full monty” – total nudity.

THE LION KING

Lion cub and future king Simba searches for his identity. His eagerness to please others and penchant for testing his boundaries sometimes gets him into trouble.

ET: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL

A meek and alienated little boy finds a stranded extraterrestrial. He has to find the courage to defy the authorities to help the alien return to its home planet.

AMERICAN BEAUTY

Lester Burnham, a depressed suburban father in a mid-life crisis, decides to turn his hectic life around after becoming infatuated with his daughter’s attractive friend.

TAXI DRIVER

A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.

MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING

A young Greek woman falls in love with a non-Greek and struggles to get her family to accept him while she comes to terms with her heritage and cultural identity.

NAPOLEON DYNAMITE

A listless and alienated teenager decides to help his new friend win the class presidency in their small western high school, while he must deal with his bizarre family life back home.

HALLOWEEN

A psychotic murderer institutionalized since childhood for the murder of his sister, escapes and stalks a bookish teenage girl and her friends while his doctor chases him through the streets.

RESERVOIR DOGS

After a simple jewelry heist goes terribly wrong, the surviving criminals begin to suspect that one of them is a police informant.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT

Three film students go missing after traveling into the woods of Maryland to make a documentary about the local Blair Witch legend leaving only their footage behind.

One Writers Revisions Process

 

How do you do your revisions?

I’m a fountain without a valve:

I gush on or shut off. 

 

After I frenzily finish a script, I completely ignore it for a few weeks. I put my attention elsewhere to cleanse my palette thoroughly. I make sure I have a lot of time with myself so I can hear my intuition.

Then, I dive back in. I’ll read and write and change pretty obsessively until I get it to where it “feels” right. Then I’m pretty exhausted again and I shut it all down, go to sleep, or go off to do something else.

This is me formalizing a structure to my natural creative process for your benefit incase it also happens to work for you.

The key is to trust your Self. Follow your intuitive desires, thoughts, curiosity, and inklings. I trust in my own timing as creator. I trust that when the time is right, this intellectual property will finish itself the way it wants to be, at completion. It always does.

It could be in the middle of a conversation with a new person, waking up thirsty, finally falling asleep after fighting against it, driving on the open road, walking, or doing any of the things I do in my life–  but my next moment of inspiration will strike. And the faucet whirls back “on” for it. Or for something else, and I follow that through, too.

It goes on in this cyclical manner for quite some time, again always until I get it to where it feels “right”.

 

The important things to remember are the things that SUPPORT your creation and the things that THWART your creation.

 

Fear, self-doubt, hating your self, hating your life, deep regrets, shame, and guilt will all THWART your efforts to create. If you’ve gotten as far as to have written and completed a screenplay there must be some part of you that is attempting to break free. If you’re being harassed by the above saboteurs, work on controlling your thoughts. It’s really hard. So work hard.

 

For those who live in and support themselves on the quality of their intellectual property, it’s of the utmost sincerest importance that your mental, creative, and emotional faculties remain unobstructed to creative genius and favorable decision-making.

 

So now that you’re creating or maintaining a safe place inside yourself where you’re loved enough to allow your individuality and creativity reveal itself, these are the simple steps to produce your best revisions (according to Moi):

  1. After completion of the first draft of the script, leave it alone for a minimum of two weeks. If you have any genuine changes, insights, or epiphanies during the two weeks or more, write them down to get it out. Put them in the same place, like an envelope with the script in a drawer or folder, before directing your attention elsewhere immediately. The point is to get it down and move on as quickly as possible: spend only as much time as it takes to transfer the idea to physical paper. Do not linger on the story seeking new inspiration! 
  2. Do things to continue to put distance between you and the story: Meet, find, see different people. Try things outside of your comfort zone; if you stray too far be sure to nurture yourself with comforting activities, food, and alone time. Watch movies, read books, drive, walk, re-focus on important relationships, help someone else, travel, re-enforce your boundaries, redirect attention to other revenue streams and businesses, and my favorite thing: learn. This is the best way to put distance between you and the story, stretching another brain map area by continuously trying. It’s in the trying. Get yourself “into” something else. Pick a new “thing”.
  3. Okay it’s been two weeks, what now? If it’s been two weeks or you’re ready to come back and comb the script with your revision (whichever comes first), you will find that along with your script when you come back to it, you will have LOTS of changes to make!! Beautiful assortments of papers will not only re-inspire you, but further validate confidence in yourself. You will feel pride and appreciate that the time and care you put into taking care of yourself was instrumental in nourishing you to finish what you started at the quality caliber you initially wrote it. It will basically have revised itself.

What if I don’t have any notes? Have received no inspiration or insights? Can’t stop the thwarting thoughts crippling me with insecurity, fear, and unworthiness?

Then you need support! No shame, my friend. I might be able to assist you overcoming this intellectual property debacle, or it might be beyond my capacity to help you. You can give me the important details after the jump if you’re interested in trying something different. There’s only honest and confidential information shared between us, so if I asses that something else might work better, you’ll receive the benefit of my suggestion at no charge.

Try it, it might work for you. Let me know how it goes: Natalee@NataleeArteaga.com